On Sunday, the Burma Army ordered refugees who returned to their home village to go back to camps for internally displaced people in Hai Pa, Mong Hsu Township, according to local sources.
The refugees, who are from Koong Nim village, were returning to their homes after the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N) and the government’s Union Peacemaking Working Committee (UPWC) agreed to a ceasefire in early December after two months of fighting in central Shan State.
“Because the fighting has stopped, we decided to go back to our village,” said one of the Koong Nim residents who was later forced to return to the IDP camp. “We were kept in Koong Nim’s temple for about two hours. The Burma Army asked us who had allowed us to return home. They said we should not go home if they are not the ones who allowed it.”
“The Burma Army said they will inform us in the next two months [about when we can go back to our homes],” the same resident said. “It was lucky for us that they did not do any harm to us.”
However, their property in Koong Nim, including 262 buffaloes, 239 cows, 289 pigs, 117 chickens, 19 motorcycles, six rice milling machines, over 500 rice storage containers and 1,000 corn storage containers have been lost since the villagers left their homes.
Koong Nim village has 130 families with 500 residents who fled to Hai Pa during the recent conflict.
“We are planning a new place for IDPs to resettle in Wan Kaung near Hai Pa village,” said one of the village heads in Mong Hsu Township, who wished to remain anonymous. “The refugees will be moved to a new place where they will have space for planting.”
On October 6, the Burma Army launched an offensive against SSPP/SSA-N in central Shan State, which continued through December and caused the displacement of more than 10,000 civilians in Kesi, Mong Hsu and Mong Nong Townships.
By SAI AW / Shan Herald Agency for News (S.H.A.N)